The Real Christmas Picture

Loveys, we've been reading Christmas storybooks over here lately. For a book-lover like me, those moments when I cuddle up with the kids and we read a story--those moments are special. Way before I had children, I used to love to go into a bookstore and browse the children's section. I've always loved to buy picture books. I think it goes back to my mother reading books to me as a child. And there's something extra special about holiday-themed books.

I'm hoping we have time to read a few more once winter break begins. Our nights are like most families'. Hectic with showers and homework and messes and no one wanting to go to bed, but Mommy's desperate for a little quiet. In theory, I'd love for us to cozy up every night for a story. In reality, you're tripping over toys, and yelling to hurry up and brush teeth, and you know you've got the mess in the kitchen to deal with. But sometimes, you ignore all that and say, Okay, let's read a story! (And then Lincoln brings you a Halloween book and you say, No, find one of our million Christmas ones.)

And really, all the chaos of family life, mixed with the crammed schedules of the holiday season--are both blessings. Today, I had Aleppo on my mind. Of course, it's everywhere you look--the news, online, Facebook. And there was a quote I read somewhere (I can't remember) saying something about being grateful for all the things we're doing, because there are families who are just trying to survive. That really spoke to me. I'm grateful for just the every day--taking waffles to the class party, buying Starbucks cards for the teachers, helping a friend in need, making breakfast for Jeff, with Lily roaming around at my feet. It's just life that we're living here at my house--and we're lucky to be living it. We're not on the run. My children are dreaming of Santa and Christmas. We're eating grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for dinner.

I keep stopping and praying for those mamas right now who are feeling so helpless. And it hurts my heart.

Those people need a miracle, loveys. Let's pray for one this Christmas. Let's use our Christmas wishes for those families. Jesus loves those people, and they must be so afraid.

So I'm thankful for messy lofts and barefoot children curled up next to me while we read stories. Reindeer Christmas parties at the school, and spelling words. Because some people would give anything just for normal.

Perspective changes everything.

I'm just going to be real with you, loveys, like most women, I have all kinds of insecurities. About friends, about weight, about getting older, about who I am. I struggle with all those things. And then sometimes, I think of friends we've lost--people our age who have passed away (which breaks my heart)--or even just people I know who are battling illness--and I hate those insecurities I have.

Because perspective hits you and you know that some people would give anything just to be able to stumble over toys and read Christmas stories. And who cares if the dishes are piled in the sink and laundry could literally swallow you up? Who cares what size your jeans are? Who cares if your hair is a mess or you drank three cups of coffee that day? There are people who would give anything to be safe, to be happy, to be loved, to be here.

This Christmas, loveys, I want to just be grateful for what I have and who I am and the life I'm living. I just want to accept and embrace where I am exactly now. (It sounds easier than it is.) That's the gift I want to give myself. (And I want to give that gift to Jeff and the kids too.)

We've been listening to Christmas music in the car, weeks. Sometimes it doesn't register with me because I'm thinking of a million things. The other day, I pulled into a parking spot and Ashtyn asks me, "Mama, what does it mean, a baby changes everything?" We'd been listening to Faith Hill's gorgeous song, A Baby Changes Everything. I put the car in park and thought for a moment. Then I tried to explain how a baby actually does change everything. (She asked me if she changed everything and I couldn't help smiling so wide and saying, yes, absolutely, you changed everything.) And then I tried to explain that the song is about Jesus, who really changed everything. And that segued into talking about Christmas being about Jesus.

Perspective again. About why we celebrate at our house.

I'm thinking that perspective makes us better, loveys. It's a good thing.

This Christmas, I am the most excited for seeing my kids open their Santa gifts. (Let's just say I have a hint about what he's giving them! Ha!) I honestly can't wait. There are magical moments ahead. I want to treasure them forever.

It's almost Christmas, lovey. Let's pray for the hurting. And love the people around us.

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